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Council Ponders Return of Bus Service

By Randy Thoms Jan 31, 2023 | 9:40 AM

Kenora is one of two municipalities in northwestern Ontario still operating its own bus service. Image: Tim Davidson

Some members of town council are interested in exploring the idea of bringing back transit service to Fort Frances.

The town got rid of the service in 1996 when the province ended subsidies.

Councillor Wendy Brunetta is among those supporting a review.

“I think that it is critical that we have some method of our citizens being able to find transportation through some means other than taxis,” says Brunetta.

Shortly after ending its municipal bus service, the town created a dial-a-ride program with the service provided by a local taxi service.

That was halted in 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

There have been efforts to restart the program, but the company that last operated the service has expressed it is no longer interested under the current fee structure.

Mayor Andrew Hallikas also favour a review to see if transit services could be restores.

He says the need for public transportation was an issue he heard during recent meetings with Walmart executives.

“One of the things I heard consistently from them is that some of their employees, the younger ones, the older ones and the retired ones, have trouble getting to work because we don’t have public transit in town. So, I think it’s topical,” says Hallikas.

Councillor John McTaggart says there are a lot of new people in the community who may not currently have a driver’s licence.

“I think it is incumbent on us to accommodate the new arrivals and see where this may lead us,” says McTaggart.

The province currently provides some funding for transit services through the redistribution of provincial gas tax money to municipalities.

Fort Frances receives a share of that each year.

Traditionally it has gone to operating its handi-transit services.

Kenora and Thunder Bay are the only northwestern Ontario communities that own and operate a regularly scheduled bus service.


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